A Republican leader in the state and several parents are suing Governor Gavin Newsom over COVID-19 related school closures. They want schools to reopen, but the governor and health officials say it’s best they remain closed.
NBC Palm Springs spoke with Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s top health officer, to get his opinion on schools reopening.
“Here in Riverside, and we account for the percentage of tests, it looks like kids get COVID-19 at about the same rate as everybody else. that means a higher risk of kids who are either being affected by school by other kids or by teachers and bringing it home,” explained Kaiser
More than a dozen parents represented in this case want Governor Gavin Newsom to let schools and districts decide on their own whether to return to in-person learning or not.
“The risk to children and the risk to teachers from children infinitesimal,” said Harmeet Dhillon, CEO of The Center For American Liberty.
But Dr. Cameron Kaiser has actually analyzed our local data and he says that’s not the case.
“Certainly much fewer kids get sick, at least in the short term. but those kids who do get sick become very seriously ill,” said Kaiser.
Dr. Kaiser notes that we already have examples of schools reopening too soon, only to have to close again after students and staff become infected.
“At a high school in Georgia, which you heard about which had to close down earlier this week. about an eighth of the students in quarantine,” explained Kaiser.
That’s 1,200 students now forced to quarantine, the district is reporting more than 70 cases among students and staff. But some families say distance learning is impossible for children with special needs.
“Special needs families are really being devastated, we’re impacted so profoundly. regression is dangerous profound in our children,” said Christine Ruiz, Plaintiff, and Parent.”
Dr. Kaiser says he doesn’t take those concerns lightly.
“When you wind this back to special needs kids, I’m certainly very cognizant of their particular needs, the technical requirements for distance education can be very challenging, but we also have to keep in mind too particularly for elder ones that they may have as much ability to transmit as anybody else,” said Kaiser.
Other parents worry about the social and emotional impact their kids face.
“My daughter socially, emotionally has struggled. for my son this is his last chance to be a senior,” said Matthew Brach.
Dr. Kaiser knows these school closures aren’t permanent, and when schools do reopen, it has to be done safely
“The problem is of course is that with our schools being closed for so long we don’t know what we don’t know. and I want all of our schools to be very well prepared so that we make as few mistakes as possible,” explained Kaiser.
The group behind the lawsuit is called The Center For American Liberty and this isn’t the first time the conservative group has filed a lawsuit against the governor, as for this lawsuit, a hearing will take place on Monday where a judge will decide how to move forward.